The Orioles announced that they’ve acquired left-hander Andrew Faulkner from the Rangers and released outfielder/pitcher Dariel Alvarez to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Baltimore will send cash or a player to be named later to the Rangers to complete the swap. The Orioles have optioned Faulkner to Triple-A Norfolk.
Faulkner, 24, has seen time in the Majors in each of the past two seasons, totaling 16 1/3 innings with the Rangers and pitching to a 4.41 ERA with an 11-to-7 K/BB ratio and a 43.4 percent ground-ball rate. He spent the bulk of the season in the bullpen with the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate, tossing 45 1/3 innings with a 3.97 ERA 7.7 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9. MLB.com rated Faulkner as the No. 30 prospect in the Rangers’ system at the time of the swap, noting that he lost a couple of miles off his fastball in 2016.
When at his best, however, Faulkner is tough on left-handed opponents, as evidenced by the .175/.291/.238 line posted by opposing lefties (including both the Majors and minors) in 2015. The former 14th-rounder (2011) does have some experience in the rotation — nearly half of his 165 minor league appearances have been starts — but he’s worked primarily out of the bullpen across the past couple of seasons.
As for the 28-year-old Alvarez, it was reported earlier today that the outfielder-turned-pitcher is likely to require Tommy John surgery after suffering an elbow injury. The Cuban defector has been in the Orioles organization since the 2013 season but received just 35 plate appearances in the Majors. Alvarez has spent significant time at the Triple-A level in each of the past three seasons, and while he’s hit fairly well, he hasn’t exactly dominated the level; in 304 games with Norfolk, Alvarez has batted .285/.317/.409. Speculatively speaking, the O’s could re-sign Alvarez to a minor league deal, allowing him to rehab with the team and then to continue making his transition to the mound once he returns to health.